The nation's unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent in May, the first significant increase in a year, reports the US Labor Department. Many forecasters are predicting continuing rises in the next 12 months to between 8 and 9 percent.
Unemployment had leveled off at about 7.3 percent, the April level, in late 1980 and early this year. Government and private economists saw in the monthly figures an indication of stability in the national economy. Unions had warned against such optimism in the face of the potential effect of Reagan administration budget cuts on jobs.
Increased layoffs in public service and construction and manufacturing industries in May pushed the jobless figure up. Layoffs, heaviest in auto and allied industries, affected primarily adult males -- the most employable group in the labor force. The jobless rate for men rose to 6.3 percent from 5.8 percent one month earlier. The figure for women rose from 6.6 percent to 6.8 percent. Blacks were 13.6 percent unemployed in May and teen-agers had 19.5 percent rate as school vacations began.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that a total of 8,171,000 were jobless in May, an increase from 7,746,000 in April. Meanwhile, the number holding jobs rose by 259,000 to a total of 99,235,000.